Dr. Chef: Prepare and Enjoy Ceviche at Home
A journey of food and wellness with Dr. Loret de Mola
After the last article the editor asked me to share with you some aspects of my life besides being a doctor and running around from sunrise to sunset doing patient care. To tell you the truth… I am just a regular Joe, a sinful Catholic who every Sunday asks for forgiveness and rejuvenation to become a better man for the next week to come,just so I can do it all over again. I suffer from the same things every body does, trying to stay in shape, fighting weight gain, keeping my cholesterol low, trying to be a better husband, father, friend, and a weekend warrior with a long list of “honey do’s”.
Over the years, I have come to the conclusion that the key to health and longevity is genetics, a little bit of good luck, exercise, diet,and good night sleep. The first two are God’s will, the other ones are our responsibility…. as simple as that. Today people are more aware of this and I see more people getting in shape, running through the city, an incredible increase amount of bicyclists, the gyms are packed with the young and elders trying to keep up. The market is full products directed towards healthy life, food, vitamins, supplement protein shakes etc.
But free will is a difficult thing and there is no worse enemy than yourself when you are trying to follow a routine of exercise or diet. It is a continuous battle between your conscious and subconscious, either you are on the wagon or off the wagon; and as everybody else, I keep falling off the wagon and jumping right back on. Thank God for “Monday” and “tomorrow”, so we can start anew every time. So “try your best and forget the rest” (I heard this one in my P90X course!). Try exercising daily for one hour, as a doctor, I recommend daily walking. If you are short on time, start slow and increase a few minutes daily until you walk for an hour, then increase the speed, and later get a pedometer and try doing 20000 steps a day. No need to join the gym or buy expensive shoes, just go home and go out for a walk. An added benefit is that you will sleep and rest better.
Something that contributes to my “falling off the wagon” is dinning out. The problem is that you do not have control on what is in the food composition. Don’t take me wrong… I love going out, we visit restaurants at least twice a month. We like to socialize with friends and enjoy having the dinning experience, but restaurants are a business. This being said, they need to bring flavors to the table at a minimum cost to attract customers….what greatly flavors restaurant food is loads of salt and fat, they are heavy on the cream and yolks, and a meal may easily represent 1500 calories and 3 pounds on the scale. We enjoy going out, but we normally end up having “buyer’s remorse” the morning after when we step on the scale and a whole week of eating healthy goes out the window! That’s why I usually skip the scale that day.
Thankfully Summer is here, and with it the opportunity to go to the beach and get into the ocean,smell the breeze, walk barefoot along the shore, eat more fish, fresh salads and summer drinks, or a fruity cocktail. Back when I lived in Peru, it was normal that during the months of Summer that we would have Pisco Sours for cocktails and some kind of ceviche for lunch almost daily. We have continued that tradition here, and most of our weekends are spent fixing stuff around the house and later jumping in the pool while planning the dish for the day. Ceviche is a very healthy dish, prepared of fish, scallops, shellfish or a mix off all of them, but whatever the combination, you can not beat fish for health reasons. It is loaded with good proteins, phosphorous, and essential fats, omega 3 and EPA and DHA, I can talk to you for 3 hours on this topic, but in summary essential fatty acids are the ones we cannot synthesize because we do not have the enzymes to do so. Therefore, we are obligated to eat it; oily fish (Tuna, salmon, sardines), are good because they are loaded with all of these essential fatty acids. Nowadays, you can buy supplements but they very expensive, so it’s simply cheaper to eat fish 3 times a week.
Ceviche can be made from any white fish you like, from grouper to snapper, perch, shepherd, tilapia etc. The trick to a good ceviche is the freshness, if you are a fisherman I would even prepare it on the boat, the more fresh the better. If you are buying from a fish market, make sure the catch is fresh (look in the eyes, they should be clear and shiny, not cloudy), and in most markets they can fillet it for you.
In a nutshell, this dish is a pickled fish with salt and lime juice, and although some people are finicky at the thought of raw fish, this is not raw at all. The fish is thoroughly cooked with the acid from the limes, so don’t worry.
Two weeks ago a friend took us to a peruvian restaurant in North Tampa, the food was very typical from Peru, very much like the comfort food from back home. If you want to try a ceviche before attempting to do it yourself, this would be a good place to start, the ceviches were very good and you can ask the waiter for the degree of spiciness you are comfortable with, from mild to very hot, it’s your choice! The name of the restaurant is Terra Sur Cafe, it is a very small but nice environment, decorated in peruvian fashion, with generous portions and good service.
But remember, there is no place like home when you are trying to control quality, fat and salt content. Choose fresh and wholesome ingredients, increase your fiber, look for vegetable oils rich in essential fats, lower your salt, exercise daily and rest well. Oh! and never drink more than your doctor.
Recipe / Classic Ceviche and Pisco Sour Cocktail
2 fillets of white fresh fish dice (1/2inch x 1/2 inch)
Juice of 18 Key Limes
1 tsp of Kosher salt
3 hot pepper (Aji Limo) finely dice (brunoise 1/8 inch x 1/8 inch)
A good substitute for Aji Limo can be, red jalapeño, or fresh cayena, Habanero., on bonette.
1 red onion thin slice
1 sweet potato
1 white corn
1 ginger root peal and cut (size of your thumb)
1 stalk of celery
1 clove of garlic
1 branch of cilantro
1 leaf of lettuce
First boil the corn and the sweet potato, in two different pots, the corn you boiled with water and salt and anise seeds for 20 minutes, set a side until the end, the sweet potato you boil for 20 minutes , then peal and let it cool.
Buy fresh white fish, cut it in small squares (1/2 x 1/2 inches). Place them in a bowl, add the salt and mix well, cut the pepper in half and with a spoon remove the seed and veins, of the pepper, this will reduce some of the heat of the pepper, wash them under running water, then dice the pepper in tiny squares, (1/8 x 1/8 inches also called “ Brunoise” cut). Slice the red onion add salt to the onion and let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes, this will wilt the onion make it softer to eat, then soak the onion with cold water for 15 minutes and rinse the onion under cold water, and set aside.
In a blender, place the garlic clove, the ginger and the celery (pealed and sliced cross section to the fiber), the juice of the 18 key limes. Blend until liquified and pour on to the fish and mixed well. Cool the ceviche with ice cubes but remove them before serving. In Peru, we eat it immediately, here wait 30 minutes to let the fish be pickle and turn white. It is a cold dish.
To serve place the fish and its juices cover with the onions and some leaves of cilantro, accompany with 3 slices of sweet potato and corn, garnish with one leaf lettuce.
Note: Aji Limo is a Peruvian hot pepper you can find in the frozen section of latin markets.
Pisco Sour Cocktail:
Pisco the spirit,is a white grape brandy from a special grapes from Peru, Pisco is the place where this brandy is made, and if it is not from there you can not call it Pisco, just like Champagne and sparkling wines.
1 ounce simple syrup
2 ounces of key lime juice
3 ounces of Pisco Quebranta Barsol
1 egg white
1 cup of ice
1 drop of bitter (angostura)
Mixed all the ingredients in a shaker or a blender shake well for 30 seconds, serve in a martini glass ,once is served splash a drop of bitter on top of the foam.
Drink responsibly, no more than two.
About Dr. Loret de Mola
Dr. Fernando Ignacio Loret de Mola was born in Lima, Peru in 1957 and is an occupation medical doctor specializing in family medicine and wound care. Educated in USA and Peru, Dr. Loret de Mola completed his residency in family medicine at the University of Minnesota after which he relocated to Florida. He lives in Lakeland, Fla. and practice medicine with the Watson Clinic LLP, and is the medical director of the Center for Wound Care at Lakeland Regional Medical Center. Happily married with four children, Dr. Loret de Mola is an avid tennis player and enjoys cooking and exploring new dishes and foreign cuisines, sharing his cooking with friends and family.
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